3D printing is still a young technology, but when you can use it for important tasks like making gummy snack figures of yourself, or building a home, it's no longer in its infancy. And Dubai has reached that second (and arguably more important) milestone, with an entire building 3D printed.
Weather is free, of course, but predicting it, and anticipating changes like sudden storms or flash floods--that takes technical equipment and sensors. Thanks to 3D printing and cheap commercial electronics, USAID thinks they can bring weather stations to the developing world. And they should only cost about $200 each.
This week, Amazon announced its new 3-D printing store. We were immediately giddy, imagining the endless possibilities of being able to upload any design and, in Amazon fashion, have it shipped to us in solid form overnight. But the online book purveyor that has diversified to sell basically everything on the planet seems to have squandered its opportunity to transform the 3-D printing movement; the products in its new online marketplace are not customizable, fairly expensive, and slow to be delivered.
3D printing is at an awkward, prepubescent stage right now. The printers aren't exactly common, but a few early adopters have them. That leaves out the people who'd like to use them occasionally without investing in a printer of their own, and that seems like the market Staples is catering to by offering 3D printing to customers.
President Obama's nationwide push for innovation in manufacturing reaches across agencies from the National Science Foundation to the Department of Energy, and now it's reaching all the way into the Pentagon where $60 million is being set aside for investment in 3D printing technologies. The DoD will fund a network of agencies, academic institutions, and companies to build on 3D printing tech with the overarching goal of building aerospace and weapons technology faster.